||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (April 2009)|
Dorian Hawkmoon is one of the less "problematic" characters Moorcock ever created a series around. Unlike the anti-hero Elric of Melniboné, or the alienated and tragic Corum, or the sometimes savage Erekosë, Hawkmoon is described as being very much close to an all-around "good guy", despite lacking some subtlety (or perhaps, for this very reason).
Hawkmoon is captured by the evil forces of Granbretan who implant by means of arcane technology (devised by a caste of 'sorcerer-scientists') a sinister black jewel in his skull. He is sent to The Kamarg (a future version of the southern French region of Camargue) to perform reconnaissance prior to invasion. The black jewel transmits (and may record) all that Hawkmoon sees to Granbretan's capital, Londra. Temporarily freed from the curse of the jewel by The Kamarg's Protector, a grizzled warlord called Count Brass, he falls in love with the Count's daughter, Yisselda, and embarks on a quest to find and implement the will of the Runestaff, a magical item which preserves the Cosmic Balance. During his adventures, he has to collect two more magical items; the Red Amulet held by a mad god somewhere in future Ukraine, and the Sword of the Dawn, winning many battles in which he is hopelessly outnumbered, but helped by loyal companions, by mysterious allies who arrive in the nick of time, and by dissension, scheming and treachery in the ranks of his foes.
The Runestaff is one of the major artifacts in Moorcock's multiverse. The Black Sword (whose aspects in Elric's milieu are the soul-stealing swords Stormbringer and Mournblade) is another. The Black Jewel, which manifested itself in the world of Hawkmoon as the Jewel implanted in Hawkmoon's skull, is akin to the Black Sword. Another artifact, the most powerful, is the Cosmic Balance: it powers the Runestaff to produce Order. The Horn of Fate is still another artifact or power. Often artifacts are carried by the Champion Eternal.
Hawkmoon's struggle with the empire of Granbretan was treated in The History of the Runestaff, which consists of four books ("The Jewel in the Skull", "The Mad God's Amulet", "The Sword of the Dawn", and "The Runestaff"); the setting of this tale is a post-holocaust Earth.
Hawkmoon later returned as the main character of a sequel trilogy, the Chronicles of Count Brass ("Count Brass", "The Champion of Garathorm", and "The Quest for Tanelorn") that branched out into Moorcock's Multiverse proper. The second Hawkmoon series brought the Eternal Champion cycle to a conclusion of sorts—though not exactly a finale, as subsequent Eternal Champion books show.
The History of the Runestaff was adapted into comic book form in two books published by Savoy and drawn and adapted by James Cawthorn and a series by Gerry Conway, Roger Salick, and Rafael Kayanan. The adaptation was published by First Comics in 1986.
In 1985, Kerie Campbell-Robson created a role-playing game based on the Hawkmoon series, published by Chaosium and using its Basic Role-Playing system. While never attaining any lasting level of popularity among English-speaking gamers, the game became hugely popular in France, where it was translated into French for the first time in 1988. A third French edition is currently published since 2009.